Introduction

Carbohydrates are an important energy source in the human diet. They generally supply about 45% of the energy requirement in developed countries and up to 85% in developing countries. Carbohydrates have been considered a fundamental source of nourishment and inexpensive and versatile staple of the diet.

The type and composition of dietary carbohydrates varies greatly among different food products. Dietary carbohydrates can be predominantly found in the form of sugar (monosaccharides and disac-charides) and starch or nonstarch polysaccharides. Furthermore, in the food industry they can be used in the form of hydrolyzed cornstarch, high-fructose corn syrups, modified starches, gums, mucilages, and sugar alcohols.

The current global emphasis for healthy eating focuses on increasing carbohydrate consumption, particularly in the form of whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. Epidemiological and clinical studies have shown a positive association between carbohydrate consumption and reduced risk of chronic disease and certain types of cancer.

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